Artist: Diamanda Galas
Album: At Saint Thomas the Apostle Harlem
Genre: Avant-Garde Jazz, Experimental
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Verrá la more e avrá i tuoi occhi
Die Stunde Kommt
Three and a half decades after Diamanda Galás’ first recordings as a solo vocalist, she still talks about her singing as an act of violence. Musing to Rolling Stone about her performance of the folk standard “O Death”—versions of which are included on both of her new records, *All the Way and At Saint Thomas the Apostle Harlem—*she describes it as a cycle of destruction. “You keep breaking it and breaking it and breaking it and desiccating it and putting it back together until it becomes a new life form,” she says. “And then you rip it apart again.” It’s an accurate description of that solo piano piece—which traffics in the California-born composer’s longheld affinities for bebop, blues, and stately morbidity—but it’s also a handy summation of the harrowing work Galás has made for her whole career.
Whether she’s offering abstract expressionism on her original compositions or shredding the American songbook—as she does on this pair of releases—the uniting factor is a sense of attack. Galás’ singing is most often clipped, multisyllabic, microtonal. Her bracing classicist techniques are employed with an executioner’s heavy hand. Galás’ bellow has added ever-darker textures to grim records about the specter of AIDS and the horrors of genocide. She has made more than one record with a titular nod to Satan. Darkness is kind of her thing.
By these standards—and even compared to her other efforts interpreting jazz and blues classics, like 1992’s *The Singer *or 2003’s La Serpenta Canta—her two new records are relatively muted. It’s a direction she’s been moving in for the last couple of decades. But in the nine years since her last album, the live document *Guilty Guilty Guilty, *Galás has finally perfected this restrained version of her deadly approach.
by Colin Joyce